Aitch’s rise has been monumental and enjoyable to watch. He makes music that people love, he is true to himself and it looks like he has a great time whilst doing it all. As the Manchester native rapper continues to grow from strength to strength we sat with him to talk about his new collaboration with Relentless, his journey so far, new music and more.
Fill us in with what you’ve been up to at the minute musically? I know you just dropped a track with Pa Salieu, which is such a vibe! Two creative powerhouses connecting there. What else have you been up to at the minute and how has all of that stuff been going?
“What have I been up to? To be fair, I’ve kind of been doing a bit of everything. I’ve been in the studio. Of course I suppose that’s my main job, but if I’m not in the studio then I’m doing something wrong. So yeah, I’ve been in the studio and I’ve been doing a lot of other little bits. Like the Relentless kind of vibes. all that stuff. And yeah I’ve just been living my best life!”
Amazing we love to see it! We always see the activity online it’s a great hustle to witness.
“Thank you very much, I appreciate it. I’ve been staying busy to be fair. I suppose, the past couple of weeks I’ve not been in the studio as much as I usually would be because I’ve been working on some exciting projects. I had Soccer Aid recently as well.”
Yeah, I guess it’s such a busy time for you and a lot of artists like you. We can see you are making the most of it and taking advantage of every opportunity which is amazing to see. I know you mentioned it just briefly before, but can we just say a massive congratulations from me and all the team of GRM for being the new face of Relentless for the without limits campaign. How does it feel to be on board with a brand like Relentless and becoming part of that team?
“It was sick…I’ve always said from the start that I don’t want to just rap, just be a rapper, and do nothing else but that. I feel like that’s the key to going crazy. So I always tried to do other things. I’ve always wanted to be in adverts and what not and then the Relentless opportunity came about. It’s a good opportunity to be a part of and it’s going to allow the fans to link up with me, it’s a good way to show some love back as well.. It’s also good for the fans.”
I guess you’ve been up to some bits and bobs for them so far already, what’s been your favourite part about being the face of Relentless and the without limits movement so far?
“My favourite part of it all is just giving the fans something, The opportunity to come and meet up and whatnot. Oh and I suppose on a personal note, I’ve seen certain people do things in the past and it’s inspired me to do things like this. But my main answer is obviously that it’s good to give back to the fans.”
Is it taking place in Manchester?
“It certainly is taking place in England. I’m trying not to give too much away!”
I’m not pressing you. I’m not pressing you. BUT…If it is Manchester, let’s say that GRM was coming to Manchester for the day and you’re the official tour guide, Where in Manny would you be taking us?
“Okay, If I was taking the people of GRM to Manchester…? First of all, we would go to Jack’s Kitchen and get some food and get some energy for the day. And then we probably go to The NQ House which is my manager’s building, the offices slash studio, we would go there and show you around the place. Play some new music and have some fun.
And then if you want to go out for a night out, you’d be more than welcome. We’ll go to the club and then we’ll go back to the crib and have the best time ever!”
That sounds like an ideal day. You are Manchester through and through, do you think the city will always have your heart? Or could you imagine being drawn to living anywhere else?
“Yeah, 1000 million per cent. I might dabble in other places now and then. But yeah, Manchester has always got my heart. I always find my way back here.”
So establishing yourself in the scene at home. Did you find it tough at all? You’ve settled into your lane. Did anyone, maybe even yourself subconsciously, try to steer you into another direction when you became comfortable around your new music peers? Or do you think that you have found it quite easy to just stay authentic?
“That’s a really good question. I’ve got so many answers to that one. I feel it’s not been hard for me to… how do I put this? I’ve never found it hard, being myself or accepting where I’m from and accepting my role. I’ve always known that I’m coming in.
“When I’m coming to London, I’m coming to the next man’s city, it’s not my hometown or whatever. But if anything, you know, with certain people, or with most people that just made people welcome me more with open arms because I am the guest in the City. There’s always one or two people that don’t like the outsiders, but that’s just what it is, that’s the game. But there are draw outs that have happened in London that have got me. Maybe I wouldn’t wear certain clothes or maybe I wouldn’t wear watches if I never moved to London for a little bit. I don’t know. It could be the London influence. But I’m just the guy from Manchester and I’d rather be that guy. I’d rather be the outsider. I’m comfortable with that.”
That authenticity is something that resonates with a lot of your fans. And it’s something that a lot of them find quite empowering as well.
“Yeah, definitely. I feel that’s what I originally blew up off just being myself. I feel as if it’s what was needed at a time, and then people were influenced by that. Now, not to say that I was the guy that started it, I’m not saying that. But I feel like now it’s just a case of, if you’re not being yourself, then people don’t like it anymore. Do you know what I mean? A lot of people just want people to be truthful.”
So since living in between cities, you’ve brushed shoulders with some heavyweights in the game. Who would you say has been a part of your stand out collaborations so far?
“I’d say, AJ Tracey… See now, what I will say is, I feel like everyone I have worked with so far has contributed something to my career and moulded me into the person I am today. But I suppose the people who have gone the extra mile, I would say would be: AJ Tracey, Jaykae and Ed Sheeran. Those three, I consider them as friends. I don’t even think about music when I think of them, they’re my guys. Also, Young T and Bugsy are for a lot of things, the reason that I make certain music I do in the studio now, I mean, so you know I have to give them props as well.
“And I do take a lot of inspiration from people I work with. Pa Salieu is very inspirational I’ve just worked with him recently. I’ve watched him, and this isn’t an exaggeration whatsoever, he’s walked in the room, shook everyone’s hand, beats playing. I’m talking like JUST walked into the room. He said hello to everyone, then just starts and turns the mic on and records the whole song. Like I have seen that with my own eyes. I’ve never done that in my life. So to me, that’s inspirational.”
I would love to have seen how the creative processes worked, with regards to what your process is and how you approach collabs. For “BAD” and just in general when you are collaborating with people. How do you slot into different artists creative processes? Are you quite fluid? When you’re creating and matching the different energies in the room? Or do you stick to formula because your sound is so distinctive? Or do you like to weave in between things?
“It depends on who you ask. I could be wrong here. I’m saying this about myself now, but I feel like if you ask a lot of other rappers when it comes to being in the studio or working with me, I’m the most easygoing out of everyone. I’m the most laid back so nine times out of ten if you’re in the studio with me, we’re probably going to work how you work and I will just bounce off you.
Unless you are the same as me and we’re just going to chat shit for a couple of hours and see what happens. But yeah, it’s always different. For example, AJ is fast at writing bars, so eight times out of ten AJ’s done before me. He’ll finish his 16 then probably as he’s finishing recording his, I’ll just be finishing mine, it just depends on who you work with. For someone like Pa, he’s gonna walk in and sing a whole song before you even know. It’s all different but I suppose that is the beauty of it.
You’re still very distinctively you and that’s a genius approach to your artistry. So is there anyone you’ve got your eyes on at the minute you’d love to get on a feature with?
That would be sick.
“Liam Gallagher is first on my hit list, and I want to do a song with BIA. Me and BIA…it’s going off. She’s not replying to my DMs though! I’ve reached out twice now. When it gets to three strikes you’re out, I won’t reach out anymore. So I’m trying to save that third one.”
Keeping it nice and boujee. I love that. Who would you say has helped the most to form your sound? So we know 50 Cent is up there. But are there any curveballs that some people wouldn’t expect to be in the mix?
“It all depends. This is a bit of a wild card, but I’d say Future. I don’t sound anything like Future so everyone’s going to get confused when I say that. But it’s more his attitude towards the way he raps. I think it’s more his carelessness towards the way he raps, I don’t know there was something about it.
I find this hard to explain, it’s more like a mindset in my brain, that works in the studio. But I don’t think I sound like anyone you know to say that anyone’s moulded my sound.
“I couldn’t say that, but I take inspiration off everyone. Whether it be their music or just their attitude towards things. But as for the recent music I’ve been making, for some reason I’ve been listening to Future, feeling like going to the studio and then I’ll make a song, so that’s why Future is my answer right now.”
Something within that sparking your imagination?
“Yeah, exactly. What I’m trying to say is I feel like he just goes in there and knows he’s the best. It’s like because I know I’m the best anyway, I’m going to do whatever I want. People love me, for me, I feel like that is why Future is my inspiration. That’s why I’m trying to go to the studio. Whatever comes out of my mouth now is the one because I’m the artist.”
So we’re gonna take a little step back for the next one. And we’re going to be talking about your unofficial breakout hit “Straight Rhymes”. We’d love to hear about the journey through that song, the release, the reception from your community when it dropped and what role that track played in shaping your initial start?
“So basically, my career hadn’t even started yet I was just rapping on road. And I suppose it was at the time where I think I only had about three songs recorded, and I felt like I needed more for whatever reason. So I just began to write bars and I thought I’m going to write another freestyle and see what comes of this. When I started writing one day, I probably wrote half of it. Then left it, forgot about it, a couple of days later came back to it and finished it.
“I never really realised how hard it was because I’ve never actually spat it out loud from top to bottom. Then one time I was at a place, some pub, I wish I could remember the name of the pub because it was a sick pub, I’ve been there once in my life and I would like to go back. The vibes were good, it was in Manchester with the mandem and I was like, “Yo mandem let me spit this one to you and see if you’re feeling this one.” I had the beat to “Straight Rhymes”, so I put the beat on in the car, we were then in the car park of the club. I put the beat on in the car, played it and I just spat “Straight Rhymes” from top to bottom and the reaction was crazy. We all started screaming. It was so weird. I finished it, the last bar, “bless up, safe, appreciate you spending time with me.” and everyone just went ” Arghhhhhh”. Even though I spat it, I started screaming as well. Like OH MY GOD! That was cold. I think that just gassed us all up.
I was like “yo I need to do a video for this one.” Around these times, we were doing P110 freestyles. Where you could just literally play a beat, get in front of a camera and spit to it. A live freestyle on the camera. Everyone was doing it so I wanted it to look a little bit different. So I thought I’m gonna record the song. Then I’ll film it like it’s just a freestyle, and then yeah, we recorded it the next day.
“Funnily enough I filmed it. I had long hair in that video, I had my little quiff. Then the next day it came out, but that next day I shaved my head. So I blew up and no one recognised me!
“But before I put the video out, I posted a preview, and GRM wanted to upload it. Yeah, Jaik was on my back. Saying ‘We need the video. We can upload it’. So we kind of came back and was like, Oh, you know what? I kind of want this to be the start of my channel. But we’ll give you the next video. So I was like, Yeah, cool. So that was that.
“I kept that one for my channel just because I wanted a couple of subscribers. And then I posted it. But thankfully GRM reposted on Instagram anyway, even though it didn’t go on their channel. So that helped a lot. And then the little subscribers that we were wishing to get it just turns into a fair few thousand. And then I suppose I blew up. It just happened naturally.”
So now we’ve talked a little bit about the past, could you take us through what you have got planned for 2022. You and your team always seem to be calculating ever since you dropped “Learning Curve” so we’re excited to hear what potentially is next from you
“So obviously the Pa Salieu song just dropped, that’s his song, but I thought I’d show Pa some love and get something done with him. The next thing is that I’m taking a break in November / December. Then I reckon the biggest song that I’ve ever dropped will be dropped at the start of 2022.”
Oh, for real?
“Yeah, for real, for real for real! If it’s not my biggest song, I will be shocked.
What do will you be getting up to in the last months of the year?
“Okay, so, I’m going to Toronto on the 18th of this month. So I’m going in a couple of days. And then we’re spending two weeks there. And then we’re going to New York, spending a week there. And then we’re going to LA, we’re spending the rest of the month there and then do some other stuff. December, I’m coming back to Manchester because it’s my birthday. And then I suppose, in December, I’ll just be chilling at home.”
I guess your time away is often helpful for your creativity. So when you’re at home for the month, do you find that that’s a good time to get a lot of perspectives and reconnect with yourself?
“Yeah, definitely. It’s always good. It’s always good to come back, and live some normal life, you know. But it’s one of them, I’ll be in Manchester for two weeks, and I’ll think, Oh, I can’t wait to leave now. Do you know what I mean? It’s just one of them. But It’s always good to come home.”
Perfect. And then one last question, Do you have any tips that you can give us and the readers on how to live without limits?
“Wow, how to live without limits. Be yourself first and foremost. Be yourself. Can I swear? I’ve been swearing all day. Anyway, don’t take any shit from anyone. Don’t be influenced by other people’s opinions too much. And smile and wave and everything will be all right. Just smile and wave like the penguins in Madagascar, that’s me and the mandem. We are like them man.”